TL;DR: Log out of Facebook on your main browser, delete the mobile app, use a plug in to block the news feed and don’t use a fake account.
A decade ago, I decided to quit Facebook.
I had been a user about five years and was fed up with the constantly updated index of social information, how it made me feel and the time I spent browsing it. My best friend had been off of it for years and I saw that you could continue to live without a profile. I set a date: Saturday night, I’ll pour a beer, sit down, post a goodbye to all of my friends and deactivate my account.
But that Friday, my plan took a sharp turn. I was sitting at my desk as an intern reporter at the Kalamazoo Gazette and an editor asked if I wanted to help manage the newspaper’s Facebook page. Of course, I replied, thinking this would be a huge opportunity.
And it was.
Over the years, I have spent a lot of my Internet time on Facebook, building pages, sharing updates, doing work. I would always be led back there whenever I had a pause in thought, there was always something new to check out. But five, ten, fifteen minutes would pass scrolling through the news feed and I had forgot what I was working on.
No matter how much I want to, I can’t quit Facebook. It’s part of my job. It’s how I make money, like many other social media managers out there. But over the past few months, I’ve found ways to not only severely limit my usage, but remove the ease to access it.
I’ve tried several different ways to limit my usage of the social network: time tracking apps, parental controls, and sheer willpower, but none of these really worked with something is so intertwined with personal, professional and entertainment. I could think it’s a good idea to only limit myself to 20 minutes of personal browsing on Facebook per day, but some days I spend four to five hours working on pages.
After years of tinkering, I think I’ve finally found a solution that balances the needs of a social media manager with someone who wants to (mostly) cut Facebook out of their life.
These suggestions aren’t really related to privacy, which is important to me, and I recommend reading this book, but how to reclaim time in your day and avoid the suck of the news feed.
Log out of Facebook on your main browser
The first thing I recommend doing is logging out of Facebook on your main browser. I use Safari for 98 percent of viewing webpages, so logging in requires one more additional step to access the news feed. I have found that I will subconsciously go to Facebook but stop once I see the log in page.
Use a separate Chrome-based browser for Facebook work with news feed plug in
I don’t use Chrome because of how it abuses computer resources and how Google tracks everything you do, but there are some benefits of the browser. Recently, I started using Brave as an alternative. Privacy focused, Brave is based on Chromium, allowing Chrome plug ins. I use News Feed Eradicator, which stops out the center of Facebook and replaces the news feed with a nice quote. Facebook is fully functional in every other way. The combo of having to open another application and not seeing the news feed has allowed me to quickly manage pages and look something up on a page or profile without being distracted.
Limit your phone
Because I manage social media accounts and have a personal life, I have two phones — one for work and one for personal use. There’s a lot I can say about having the separation, and may write about it later, but there are two key benefits:
1) I can do things on my personal phone without being distracted by work
2) there’s no chance I can accidentally post something personal on a work account. (I don’t think people who follow pages I manage really care about my baseball thoughts).
I’ve uninstalled Facebook from all of my personal devices, leaving it on my work phone. I really only use that device a few times a day, so the temptation of opening the app is slim to none. And if I ever need to look at the Facebook app, 9 times out of 10 work related.
There are circumstances where I need to use Facebook on my personal phone — business often make Facebook the main place to find information on them. If I need to do this, I simply log on through Safari, check what I need and log out. The mobile web experience is very nice, better in some ways than the app itself, and allows quick access when in a pinch.
I also keep Messenger installed because it’s one of the best ways to stay in contact with acquaintances and people use it a lot to reach out.
Now that we’ve covered some of the things I do to limit my use of Facebook, I think it’s important to highlight some of the things you shouldn’t do, especially as a social media manager.
Don’t make a fake account
I know some folks who have quit Facebook and manage all of their pages through a fake, obscure account. Sure, Facebook has more than 2.6 billion accounts, but there is always the possibility that the fake account could be found and deactivated. While the probability is not high, it’s something I don’t want to take a chance with. I don’t know what happens to pages if an admin gets banned from the platform, but I don’t want to find out.
Don’t totally disconnect
Part of being an effective social media manager and producer is knowing about each platform, trends and how people use it. If you totally disconnect, it will be difficult to stay relevant. I limit myself to browsing the news feed once or twice a day, partly to see how people I know are doing, but also to keep tabs on what features people are using and what kind of content is popular from pages in my industry. I am usually not on for more than 10 minutes and browse from my work phone, which doesn’t have a lot of the Bell’s and whistles of my personal phone, so that allows me to get in and get out.
Don’t become bitter
My last bit of advice: don’t become bitter about Facebook. It’s easy to really start hating a large company you don’t like. I don’t think that’s healthy for someone who is managing pages on the platform because it’s easy to turn that to the people who are on it. I say “Facebook isn’t for me, but I understand how it’s important for a lot of people to communicate with each other.”
I’ve been using this method above for a few months and am really happy with how it has changed my workflow and time management. If there’s anything you do to limit your time on Facebook and still manage pages, I’d love to hear about it. Shoot me a tweet at @fritzklug.